A petition branding the imposition of taximeters and printers an “unfair tax for Derry taxi drivers” has attracted over 100 supporters online.
John Bradley, who launched the petition just over a week ago, complains that a raft of changes to taxi regulations that will take effect from May include what will amount to a “£600 tax for the meter installation in vehicles.”
It’s an overhead drivers can’t afford, he says.
He argues that taxi women and men will have to raise fares to pay for the maintenance of the installed system.
He states: “Taxi drivers put in 50 plus hours per week to make ends meet. They work hard. They deserve to be treated fairly. Sign this petition to help raise awareness of this unfair tax on hard workers.”
Under the new rules Class A and Class B taxis must have a DoE approved taximeter and printer installed by May 31 and they must be programmed to operate within a new maximum fare structure.
Officially announcing the changes in February, Mr Durkan said: “I am modernising and improving the regulations for the taxi industry including licensing requirements, accessibility standards and installation of taximeters and imposition of maximum fares.”
He added: “In effect, these changes will mean that people in the North will get a much better taxi service. My Department will now write to all taxi drivers and operators to advise them of the changes which will be introduced as part of the implementation of the Taxis Act (Northern Ireland) 2008.”
Many of the supporters of Mr Bradley’s petition disagree, saying the regulations newly penalise drivers.
Diane Tierney states: “Taximen have been trying to earn a living for years and are being held to ransom by taxi firms who are the ones profiting while the drivers do all the work. Fair pay for fair work.”
Kathy Johnston states: “My husband is a taxi driver and already we [find] it hard enough to make ends meet. Especially with five children to support too.”
Warren Macfarland states: “The government are forcing these charges on taxi drivers, these expenses should be subsidised.”
Bob McLaughlin states: “Taxi men need a break, meters are fair enough but why punish the drivers? They are only doing a job.”